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Sharp Growth in Ereader Penetration

More than 60% gain in the number of ereaders this year

May 25, 2011

For many consumers, expensive, multifunctional tablet devices are a more desirable choice than single-purpose ereaders. But the US installed base of ereaders has more than quadrupled since 2009 and continues to grow quickly.

eMarketer estimates more than 20 million ereaders will be in consumer hands by the end of this year, reaching 8.7% of the US adult population. By 2012, 12% of adults will have a Kindle, Sony Reader, NOOK or similar device.

“Two recent developments illustrate the broad reach of ereaders,” said eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna, author of the upcoming report “Epublishing: Books, Periodicals and Devices.” “Amazon’s announcement that its ad-supported, lowest-priced Kindle is now its best-seller supports the view that people are eager for affordable, no-frills devices. At the same time, Liberty Media’s $1 billion offer for Barnes & Noble was predicated largely on the retailer’s success with the NOOK Color, whose list price is nearly double that of the ad-supported Kindle. Healthy sales at both ends of the ereader price spectrum bode well for continued adoption of this device category.”

eMarketer’s estimates of ereader penetration are based on a meta-analysis of several data sources. The penetration figures assume no sharing of devices; each ereader corresponds to a single user.

Many users indicate they do share their ereaders, however. Nielsen reported last year that about a third of ereader owners share their device with at least one other person, meaning the ereaders reached potentially millions more people than the 12.7-million-unit installed base.

Advertising opportunities with ereaders have been limited in the past, but the spring 2011 introduction of the Kindle with Special Offers brought the first ad-supported ereader to market.

”Brand marketers seeking to reach book enthusiasts have a new medium at their disposal with the ad-supported Kindle,” said Verna. “Naturally, marketers will want to avoid disrupting the reading experience, but ads on the Kindle screen saver and homepage appear to be hitting the spot where the interests of advertisers, publishers, device-makers and consumers converge.”

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Check out today’s other article, “Men Make Purchasing Decisions Too.”

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